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Friday, September 22, 2017

* FOOD BOOK OF THE MONTH! -- OFFAL GOOD: cooking from the heart, with guts (Clarkson Potter, 2017, 304 pages)

OFFAL GOOD: cooking from the heart, with guts (Clarkson Potter, 2017, 304 pages, ISBN 978-0-7704-3512-7 $40 USD hardbound) is by Chris Cosentino, chef-owner of Cockscomb in San Francisco. Log rollers include Harold McGee, Rene Redzepi (Noma), and Anthony Bourdain. It's a big book arranged by animal, to wit: cow, pig, sheep, and fowl, with adaptations according to species. Specific forms include pig ears, lamb head, calf brains, cow liver, cow foot, duck head, lamb tongue, chicken heart, and lamb sweetbreads. Generically, there is also skin, lungs, blood, stomach, spleen, kidney, fat, feet, bones/cartilage/tendons, tail, and intestines. Even more animal-specific are cow udders, testicles, gizzards, and cockscomb. There's a small primer on each. You are not going to find most of these in supermarkets, but rather you can find some at butchers or by special orders. But I've gone to specialized butchers and even some of them cannot get things like pig tails, pig and chicken livers, even pork hocks. You'll have more luck if you deal with an organic farmer, and I personally wouldn't touch any organ meat unless it is organic and free of chemicals. On p132-3 there is a fabulous picture of a cooked head-to-tail pig split in half and including lentils and chiles strewn about the kidneys, blood sausage, red sausage from pig stomach, brain and brainaise, and tongue. The closest to regular meats here are pig feet (10 preps), jowls, and lamb necks (pork necks have a rich history in Korean cuisine). The book could have been improved if it also used metric in the recipes, or at least had a metric conversion chart.
Audience and level of use: adventuresome cooks, reference tool, libraries.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: fried pig's tails, Marco Polo style; oxtail and skate; bloodtarga; smothered lamb's head with onions and lamb fat; pig stomach a la tauntaun; cordedda, peas, mint and sheep's milk polenta; pig's head and snails.
The downside to this book: nothing really, except perhaps more detail on "bridge meats" (necks, feet, jowls).
The upside to this book: a very good reference work, even if you don't cook from it.
Quality/Price Rating: 92.


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